Socialist Party USA: Statement on Tunisia

by the Socialist Party USA International Commission- January 31, 2011

Tunisia has become the latest hot spot in a global wave of popular rebellion against failed economic policies, corruption, and despotism. Ongoing protests throughout the country – called the Sidi Bouzid intifada by Tunisians in reference to the city where the protests began – were sparked by the selfimmolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a twenty-six year old street vendor. Like many, he suffered from underemployment and police violence. The rebellion went largely unnoticed by the international commercial media until the
Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14th, ending 23 years of autocracy.

The International Commission of the Socialist Party USA salutes the people of Tunisia in this important step toward liberation. The ousting of Ben Ali shows that tyrants cannot rule over a population that refuses consent. In particular, we recognize the central role played by working people. While students and the middle class also went into the streets, it was workers, organized by the General Union of TunisianWorkers that gave the emonstrations structure and tipped the balance of power toward the protests. Through concerted mass action, the working class of Tunisia proved to have the power to overthrow a seemingly invincible authoritarian regime and make history. The revolt has inspired popular struggles throughout the region and the world. Already protests have rocked Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen and other Arab states.

The Tunisian struggle continues over the nature of a new government. Mobilizations in the street are continuing in protest against a proposed “unity government” which maintains many officials from the old ruling party. Protesters are demanding a new democratic constitution before elections. Removing the dictator is not enough; the entire dictatorship must go.

Behind the scenes, economic power brokers are working to preserve neo-liberal relations with foreign interests, and insulate themselves from democratic forces. Recent revelations from Wikileaks have exposed how French and U.S. diplomats were well aware of the corruption and human rights violations of the Ben Ali regime, yet maintained uncritical friendly relations. A truly democratic alternative for the people of Tunisia that is independent of economic and diplomatic imperialism will be served best by connecting to the international socialist movement.

The International Commission of the Socialist Party USA pledges to share Tunisia’s story, and to pressure our government to respect Tunisian sovereignty. We extend our solidarity and seek greater ties with the movements in Tunisia of unionists, women, youth, and socialists. The liberation of Tunisia from Ben Ali’s personal dictatorship brings us one step closer to ending the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, warding off aggression against Iran, and ending the occupation of Palestine.

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